Brooklyn’s chief librarian has yanked a nearly 80-year-old book from the shelves because it depicts Africans as monkeys. Tintin Au Congo is the only book in the city library system hidden from public view after a reader complained that it was “racially offensive.” The popular Belgian children’s work – due to be made into a flim by Steven Spielberg – is locked behind a series of hidden doors on the third floor of Brooklyn’s central library.
“‘Tintin au Congo’ was relocated,” said director Richard Reyes-Gavilan. It “had illustrations that were racially offensive and inappropriate for children.”
The curious have to make an appointment to see the original Georges (Herge) Remi piece. The next available date was Monday morning, said a library official.
Donna Lieberman, head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, blasted librarians “for taking the easy way out” and not considering the “long term in engaging in censorship.”
Marcus Ramirez, 26, agreed.
“It’s art, it’s an expression,” said Ramirez, 26, a security guard from the Bronx, looking at a recent reprint of the 1930 cartoon from a Brussels newspaper. “Other people get offended? I don’t see why.”
Spielberg isn’t offended either. The famed filmmaker will put Tintin on the big screen in 2011, highlighting the adventures of the young reporter who travels the world with his dog, Snowy.
Herge was a Belgian enthusiast who pushed a pro-colonial message, as Tintin taught dopey natives right from wrong during his travels to foreign lands.
Even Snowy the dog takes a shot at a young Congolese boy, telling Tintin the child “doesn’t look very bright.”
Library officials across the city said they’ve debated pulling about 25 books and DVDs from city shelves, including “Godless: The Church of Liberalism,” by Ann Coulter, and a Harold Robbins novel, but rejected the requests.
Only “Tintin” was blacklisted in Brooklyn – and quietly yanked from the shelves in 2007.
“Racism is relevant,” said Brooklynite Karina Estedan, 28, who agrees the book should be locked away.
“The public library caters to the sensitivity of the community. People are trying to erase the mistakes of the past.”